Posted on: January 6, 2016 | Written By: Doug Oster |
The floor of the Baltimore Convention Center is filled with nurserymen looking for the newest trends for gardeners. They are weathered from decades spent in the fields, but look happy to have a little break. It’s wonderful to sit back and watch as they greet each other during the off season, comparing stories and wondering what’s next on the horizon in the world of gardening. The Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show is one of the biggest in the country and showcases everything imaginable for gardeners.
Since I buy lots of Lake Valley Seed, I stopped by their booth first, wondering what they thought were new trends for planting in 2016.
It wasn’t long until marketing manager Beverly Yates was showing me a special seed rack. “Our biggest demand is for flower seeds for pollinators, she said. Public focus is on honeybees and monarch butterflies.”
It’s the first year they’ve carried common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) seed, and they also have butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). Once both get established, they are tough perennials which return each season and asclepias only species the monarchs use as a host plant.
“Most of the flowers for pollinators are perennials and milkweed is really easy,” she added.
Besides the host plant, monarchs and other pollinators need pollen and nectar to feed. Yates advises diverse plantings and siting the flowers in drifts. As each drift blooms, it brings in the insects. Choose plants that will bloom early, mid and late season.
She participates in a community garden with four honey bee hives and has seen one plant that the bees can’t resist. “Borage is the number one, favorite flower for honey bees.” She warns though, “It will take over your entire universe. The bees love it and it makes amazing honey, that’s my favorite.”
As she points to packet of red California poppy seeds, she says it’s a great idea to sow them over a layer of snow. “Poppies need a freeze and thaw to break the seed case,” she say. It’s a great way to get them to germinate. The plants are hardy and can take poor soil once they are established. “It might take a year or two to get them going, but they are worth it,” she added.
All the Lake Valley Seed is free of the pesticides including neonicotinoids, which some research shows harm honey bees and other insects.
“Bees love sunflowers, she says, any herb that you plant and let go to flower is a huge attracter for honey bees.”
A shallow tray of water will help pollinators too this spring, she said.
Gardeners seem to be focused on helping pollinators, she says, and children are being taught the importance of flowers to help them.
“Kids are learning about this in school, she says, they are very smart and it’s very encouraging as they are really in to it.”